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Jun 22, 2013
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Summer Season begins in mid-June as the local schools let out for the summer, and crowd levels become higher both on weekdays and weekends. Weekends will generally be more crowded than weekdays. Clear weather days will be the highest, as rainier days will keep some more of the locals at home (but can also mean more attraction closures due to weather).
 
Jun 22, 2013
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Weather is hard to predict - but generally early May for Florida is warm (think upper 80s as highs) and can be humid. Also usually the start of afternoon thunderstorms, but not necessarily every afternoon like it is in summer. 

Crowd levels in the Florida theme parks in early May is usually low to moderate - it's past Spring Break, but before the summer season when colleges and local schools start letting out.
 
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Feb 18, 2014
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Hey Bill (or anyone else)…another quick one. My plans have changed, and I now need to decide between the third week of June or the second week of July. Do you guys think there is a big difference in crowd levels on these weeks? And both trips will be mid week by the way.
 
Jun 22, 2013
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Local schools down here let out by the first week of June - even with the snow up north, most regional schools in the southeast will be out by mid-June. So I don't think overall crowd levels on weekdays will be much different between those two time periods.

I would actually lean towards the second week of July - Summer Nights begins June 28th, so you would miss Kinetix and fireworks if visiting in June. The park in June is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays - in July it's 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
 
Feb 18, 2014
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I was wondering if you could put those crowds into perspective for me. What would be a typical summer wait, say on Sheikra, or Cheetah Hunt? I went in early May a couple of years ago and I would say the average wait was maybe 15-20 minutes (headliners) with the less popular rides being walk ons. Is the summer crowd just night and day different? Are we talking Disny-like waits here of 120 minutes, etc.?
 
Jun 22, 2013
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It's a little tough to estimate line times because of Falcon's Fury/Pantopia opening in May. That puts a new dynamic in that wasn't there last year.

Putting that aside and looking at last summer, Cheetah Hunt at 60 - 90 minutes was not uncommon in the late morning/early afternoon. Gwazi at 60 - 75, and Congo River Rapids of 45 - 60 also common. Assuming they are running at capacity, Montu, Kumba, and SheiKra usually maxed out around 30 - 45. Smaller rides usually clock in less than that - the exceptions being Skyride (from Cheetah Hunt area can back up to 45+ minutes because of low capacity) and Scorpion (one train operation).

My advice is always this: arrive early (toll booths let cars in 30 minutes prior to park opening). Hit a few of the big attractions first (Cheetah Hunt is the "big one" right now, soon to change with Falcon's Fury). That way you knock out some of the line waiting by hitting the headliners early. Then spend the rest of the day hitting everything else - re-ride the big ones later in the day as the lines normally start to wind down.
 
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Feb 18, 2014
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Wow! An hour plus for Gwazi??? I just read that the "busy time" for emergency rooms begins at around 6p.m. So I should actually ride Gwazi first, get to the hospital and then get back to the park in the late afternoon. Kidding of course. Thanks again man. I may just bite the bullet and hit the park in a couple of weeks in early April. I'll miss Falcons Fury, but oh well. Any chance of a soft opening 3 weeks before?
 
Jun 22, 2013
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Gwazi is just notoriously slow in cycling. Even in the off season, it can sometimes have a posted wait time as high or higher than Cheetah Hunt. Seriously.

Soft openings for Falcon's Fury might start mid April at best, but not likely at all before that. Media Day is April 23rd, I would expect to see soft openings/pass previews after that. Still need to go through testing yet - so too early for anything concrete.
 

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Unless Gwazi is a serious priority, I'd recommend skipping it unless the ride is a walk-on. The ops were ok when I rode two years ago (slow day in May), but the ride itself is awful. It's the first thing people see when they enter the park so people naturally gravitate to it at rope drop. Instead, I'd probably make the trek out to Cheetah and Montu as they're FAR superior (and Cheetah gets some pretty decent lines throughout the day).
 
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Dec 30, 2013
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Bill said:
Gwazi is just notoriously slow in cycling. Even in the off season, it can sometimes have a posted wait time as high or higher than Cheetah Hunt. Seriously.

I finally made it to Busch Gardens last week. I got in line for Gwazi in the early afternoon and after a few minutes they shut it down and sent everyone out. :( As I was heading out for the day, I got in line again. The outside wait time said 40 minutes but I went to look to see where the line was and it was shorter than when I first got in line earlier in the day. I thought there is no way this line is 40 minutes. Uhhh..Rookie mistake. What I didn't know at the time was they only had one car running (12 rows of 2 seats with 4 rows being used for Quick queue) OUCH. It was the most frustrating wait of my life....but I loved the ride.
 
May 28, 2011
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Hi there! The family and I have decided on a last minute trip for today, Monday! We've never been before so I was wondering if you had any general touring plan advice that the locals can offer? Sounds like we should get there at opening and start with Cheetah Run, but after that I'm not sure where to go. We have 5 and 8 year olds, so we'll probably have more emphasis on shows and smaller rides or animal exhibits/tours, although I would like to hit the big rides myself if the waits are shirt. Also if you have any thoughts on what the crowds will be like, that would be great. Thanks for any tips you can provide. Williamsburg is our home park, so we're excited to see the Tampa version.
 
Jun 22, 2013
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Overall crowds today will likely be moderate to high - it's the first day of Easter week.

Hitting Cheetah Hunt first is definitely the right plan, as that will be one of the longest waits of the day (Gwazi will also be a long wait most of the day).

The back half of the park (Pantopia/Timbuktu, Jungala, Congo, Stanleyville, and Sesame Street) normally opens 30 minutes after the park opens, so no need to run there right at opening.

I'll actually be at the park today, so if you'd like to meet up, let me know, or if you see me wearing my BGTFans media badge and buttons (one is the giraffe just like my profile image above), feel free to say hello.

Any other questions, fire away. If you have twitter, @BGTFansonline will get you the fastest response.

Have fun at the park!
 
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May 7, 2014
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Hello Bill
I'm from Panama (the country) planning on visiting Tampa in september for various activities. We wish to go to Busch Gardens and have two possible dates, thursday sept 4th or saturday sept 6th. Which day is better, crowds and all?
 
Jun 22, 2013
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Generally, weekdays will be less crowded than weekends, because more locals will be able to visit on the weekends. As of right now, both the 4th and 6th have hours of 10 am to 6 pm, so there's no benefit of going on Saturday, which sometimes has longer hours.

As of right now, I'd say Thursday the 4th would be the better of the two days.
 
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